On Sunday Countryfile sank lower than even I thought was possible with a hopeless piece about grouse moors. Here is the link and the piece starts at about 22 minutes into the programme.
Presumably, in the interests of BBC balance, Springwatch will be showing this image of how Mountain Hares are looked after on grouse moors in National Parks (look at the bodies in the back of the truck if you haven’t seen this image before)?
The alternative interview could have gone like this:
Gnarled gamekeeper: Oh a Meadow Pipit!
Countryfile interviewer: Come off it, even I know they occur everywhere. That’s scraping the bottom of the barrel a bit isn’t it. I’m not a townie you know.
Gnarled gamekeeper: Oh! Well look – there’s a Red Grouse!
Countryfile interviewer: So it is! And on a grouse moor too. We’ve seen lots of them but not much else so far.
Gnarled gamekeeper: They are bonny birds aren’t they. But they have a tough life avoiding all those predators which might kill them.
Countryfile interviewer: Really? Not doing your job very well then are you? How many foxes do you kill here every year?
Gnarled gamekeeper: I’d rather not say, actually. It’s the type of thing we boast about amongst ourselves but don’t really want the public to know about.
Countryfile interviewer: Stoats? Weasels? Hooded Crows?
Gnarled gamekeeper: I’d rather not say actually. But our predator control keeps the wildlife in good heart – that’s why there are so many waders here.
Countryfile interviewer: Can you show me one now then?
Gnarled gamekeeper: Well, there don’t seem to be so many about just at the moment.
Countryfile interviewer: And then if the Red Grouse avoid all the predators that don’t actually exist here because you’ve killed them off in traps and by lamping, you shoot them, or sell shooting for money – is that right?
Gnarled gamekeeper: Yes, that’s right.
Countryfile interviewer: So you are protecting these birds from their natural predators (by killing the predators) just so that people can kill them for fun?
Gnarled gamekeeper: Aye – it’s the country way!
Countryfile interviewer: What are the worm and tick burdens like on your Red Grouse this year?
Gnarled gamekeeper: Look at that Meadow Pipit! Aren’t they grand birds. It does my heart good to see them there.
Countryfile interviewer: Are you doing any dosing?
Gnarled gamekeeper: Errr. Well we are providing medicated grit and we do cull lots of Mountain Hares even though there is little evidence that this will reduce tick burdens on Red Grouse.
Countryfile interviewer: Oh look, there’s a Mountain Hare over there.
Gnarled gamekeeper: Damn – there are always a few that get away.
Countryfile interviewer: We haven’t seen any birds of prey here yet. It looks ideal habitat for Golden Eagles and Hen Harriers but didn’t I read some government reports that said that they are persecuted on grouse moors?
Gnarled gamekeeper: Grouse moors provide ideal conditions for Hen Harriers to nest.
Countryfile interviewer: So how many do you have this year?
Gnarled gamekeeper: None this year – but they are lovely birds when you see them.
Countryfile interviewer: When was the last time they nested here.
Gnarled gamekeeper: Oh that would have been in the old keeper’s time – not since I’ve been in post. Not for the last 20 years.
Countryfile interviewer: But you don’t kill them do you?
Gnarled gamekeeper: Not at all, not at all. They are seen here most springs but they seem to just pass through…
Countryfile interviewer: How extraordinary! You’d like a pair or two would you?
Gnarled gamekeeper: Well it’s a question of balance really. We find the right balance is when there are no Hen Harriers here.
Countryfile interviewer: That’s a shame because down in England they keep talking about brood management and they can’t find any grouse moors who’d like some extra Hen Harriers so they might be looking to Scotland to take a few.
Gnarled gamekeeper: */K”^*&!!!
Countryfile interviewer: Oh look, there’s another Meadow Pipit. Not much else around is there? Next week we’ll be covering the wider environmental problems of the management of moorland for driven grouse shooting: increased carbon emissions, increased flood risk, increased water treatment costs, reduced aquatic biodiversity and loss of protected blanket bogs – in fact we might turn it into a series, So I’ll look forward to seeing you then and in the meantime you could show your support for this type of land use by signing this e-petition that seeks to ban it.